Tag Archives: Atheism

Faith: An atheist’s perspective

I’ve wanted to write out my thoughts on this for the longest of times, and honestly it’s gotten more and more difficult to do simply because of all the angles I can approach talking about it. I’ve already done one little post on it a few days ago, in a post about Sunday Sermons but it was pretty narrow in scope. So, let’s talk.

Firstly, why has faith been one of my fundamental barriers for belief in a god? When it comes to belief, I think it’s obvious to point out that we believe based on what we perceive to be good evidence. Where faith comes in this process may vary on interpretation, but there seems to be one commonly problematic version of this that any atheist like myself refuse to have: blind belief. This understanding of faith basically posits that faith is simply belief without evidence. People often point to Hebrews 11:1 as proof that this is what faith is, and for now we’ll just leave that debate on verse translations alone use the verse as a reference: “1  Now faith is the 1aassurance of things 2bhoped for, the3conviction of cthings not seen.” Hebrews 11:1

The debate on blind belief doesn’t exist. I doubt anyone truly thinks THIS is how we should come to believe in anything, and even if it was it’s very clear that most believers have their own evidences justifying belief like everyone else in the world.

William Lane Craig, a popular Christian apologist,  and many others believe faith to essentially be trust, as the video shows. But, what warrants trust? Most parents would probably teach their kids to trust them based on experience and the fact that they care, but hidden within that remarks of “I’ve been right before!” and other variations of the quote point to the real reasoning: evidence. All placing your trust in someone is is declaring that you will depend on them, be it in the truth of their words of the actualization of their actions. When you trust someone, you basically demonstrate the belief that they will be there for you in one way or another. Like any belief, though, trust requires evidence. You just don’t “trust that the sun will rise tomorrow” or that the phone in your pocket will work, but believe that the sun will rise again given the evidence that it’s done so before. Even without science you can reasonably have faith in things like that through trends staying consistent over a long period of time. If a pattern arises it makes sense to believe it will continue.

In application to god, this means that evidence precedes good faith in this particular definition. I personally hold to this notion completely, and my being an atheist comes from the fact that examining the evidence has shown it to be faulty in many ways.

I can’t say where this debate fits- it would seem everyone with a brain would run away from the idea of blind belief. I would guess that it comes from the fact that at some point, the requirements to constantly have this trust and conviction makes it dangerously easy to continue trusting or having faith even when the evidence falls apart in a sort of transition from evidence based faith into blind faith. The bible focuses so heavily on faith it’s easy to take it into levels of blind faith. When evidence isn’t the main focus and faith is called for so intensely, there’s pressure to continue trusting without evidence. With the fear of hell, this sort of faith in god’s existence is practically a cakewalk to understand. Even without such a threat, faith can quickly become used as a sort of heated challenge and test of one’s allegiance, and history alone shows how poorly things can end up when someone’s allegiance is held to a higher level of importance than reasoning itself.

Is our logic circular? – Some thoughts

I wrote this a few days ago in response to many points that I’ve heard made by the presuppositionalist Sye Ten Bruggencate. His tactics of apologetic stem from the idea that god’s existence is necessary for logic and reasoning, and that the foundries of logic can only be accounted for through god.

Along with the coy attempts at confusion via wordplay, Sye tries to twist the idea of the brain in a vat problem of hard solipsism and claim that, in essence, the atheistic worldview cannot account for knowledge. Oi vey.

You can’t use your logic to prove your logic

A rare gem in the apologetic library, arguments for god through the critique of logic and reasoning itself tend to try and catch you off guard with confusing rhetoric. In conversation, the main ideas that try to be conveyed by the proponents of the argument essentially define the concept of god into existence. The arguments commonly starts with the proponent claiming that the nonbeliever couldn’t possibly make sense of logic by claiming that without god, the nonbeliever must resort to using circular reasoning to justify the use of their logic “You can’t use logic to prove your own logic, it’s circular!”

By doing so, the proponent tries to put any bystander into a conundrum by convincing them that there MUST be something outside of logic that validates it: god.

While for the first few times I agreed with that statement in my rebuttal, I’ve grown to use a more rigorous approach. For one, logic and reasoning aren’t actual entities in and of themselves. At best, they are conceptual tools the human uses to work their way through the world they live in. From prediction to communication, reasoning skills are necessary tools to using and understanding everything mentioned. Can a hammer be “true” in the same way a statement is true? Hammers can only be describe by their usefulness, not by it’s truthfulness. As an object, the only things true about a hammer are its properties. As a tool, the function of the object is to be used for a goal, and in this sense logic is definitely a tool. When we “use” logic in the world, we’re using this conceptual tool to make predictions about reality, and by the results we get from reasoning things out we can confirm that it gives us useful results, validating the continual use of said tool.

So yes, we can’t use our logic to prove anything but the usefulness of itself. Though, understanding logic as a tool, why would we?

What does it mean to be useful, by the way? While it ultimately depends on the goal of the tool, the usefulness of logic comes from when the conclusions there in reflect reality and can be used to make predictions and rules for how to act. Fire is hot, so don’t touch fire if you don’t want to feel pain. What goes up must come down. These statements come from understanding things about reality and logically concluding how to act based on those facts and personal desires.

One of the things about the argument worth thinking about is how easy it is be caught without the ability to defend the argument because it touches on a subject that is intrinsic to our nature as thinking creatures. It plays off of the ignorance people have to the functions of our brains and tries to force this ignorance in our faces, claiming that our inability to rebut is because there IS no rebuttal. Secondly, how did the arguer get to this position in the first place? Mind you, the basic claims embedded in the arguments boil down to god being the source of logic and reasoning because without god, there would be no logic or reasoning. It attempts to justify itself by throwing a strawman in your face; the declaration that logic cannot justify itself through logic without mentioning any other justification for using/having logic makes it seem like there couldn’t possibly be another way to rectify the created problem without god. Of course this isn’t so. Just like any other tool, the true justification for continued use in a tool is results and nothing else.

Another fairly crucial red herring in this argument comes from the ubiquity of our own uses of logic. The argument makes the layman pause and wonder exactly how could they verify logic without using logic in the process, insinuating that there must be a way outside of logic to do so. We use logic for everything, in every step of the process of thinking. To illustrate why there is no problem with using logic for everything including justifying the continued use of logic, consider the human eye. Just like logic, our eyes are tools that we use to understand the world around us. But how do we know that our eyes are valid? The same goes for all five senses: the use of these senses have no justification in the same sense that the use of logic has no basis. The information gathered from our senses are taken at face value because there is nothing else to base our actions on outside of the experiences from the perceptions of other people. What we consider “real” is a model of the world we base on the consistencies seen in what we already experience. Hallucinations are things that give one (or more) of our senses information inconsistent to the rest of our body and inconsistent with the sensory inputs of everything else. As such, the best way to figure out when one is hallucinating is whether or not our experiences are consistent to our own internal models of the world and with help of others to compare sensory input from. (Or technology, input from which we also interpret through our senses)

This is all a long winded explanation to establish one thing: the continued use of our senses also being completely unjustified by the standards set by the arguers who insist that the use of logic and reasoning cannot be justified without god. Logic, like our senses, are a part of the tools we use to understand and work with the information that those very senses bring in. In many ways, our logic and senses work together to make a model compiling everything we experience into one holistic one, and we use all six tools to correct mistakes that individual tools can make, as well as other people. “Mistakes” like making a logical prediction of what will happen in the future and getting it wrong, or making a logical statement of fact about the world we’re in. “Wrong” being that the results from the logical quandary were not consistent with the sensory input we received. Though certain people upon understanding this claim that there must be a source from which all can be confirmed outside of all six of these tools, they would be hard pressed to present one outside of positing a deity that in itself remain undemonstrated and usually not demonstrable by its own definition. To the rest of us who understand that we have no choice but to work with the tools we have, how is it that we know our logic is useful? Through comparison to the reality that it pertains to!

As a final point, all of this can be made to rewrite the circular statement posited into one that works without relying on :

Instead of “I can use my logic to validate the validity of my logic” we have “I can use the results from thinking logically to further justify using logic” which is no less different than “I can use the results of this hammer (used for the purpose of pounding in nails) to justify the continued use of this hammer”

I’ll list some of the claims I’m intrinsically making to reach my conclusions so that you guys can see if I’ve made any real mistakes here:

1)I’m claiming that reality is nothing more than the combined input of all our available senses compiled together to make a cohesive whole.

  • Therefore, we use logic to predict the very things we perceive and pull information from our senses to form logical conclusions

2)I’m claiming that logic is a conceptual tool

  • Therefore, logic can’t be “true” in the sense that we refer to statements being true. Conclusions reached by thinking logically can be true but requires further reflection with reality (our senses) to be true- Can a hammer be “true” ?

3)By 2 I’m also claiming that logic being a tool means that questions of validity should be treated as questions of usefulness (Again, can a hammer be “valid”?)

4)Given the nature of what we call reality (my prescribed definition, that is) and how we get information about reality and truth, via 1, if we are but brains in a vat being fed information artificially, no one, not even a christian, could know this. Even the idea that the claimed manifestation of god could come from knowledge that some brain in a vat could be fed.

-Some ridiculously fleshed out thoughts from a bard, clacking away. And the keys go tick.

So it’s been a while

The past two weeks have been an interesting set of weeks and ended in ways I really wish it wouldn’t have. But in retrospect maybe I would have wanted it to? I dunno.

Writing for Pixel Dynamo has been a lot of fun, even if it’s been simple news reporting. It’s not too time consuming although the beginning was a little rough. I mean, this is literally the first time I ever really wrote anything in the format and now that I’m doing it as a trend it’s been interesting.

I’d have been able to blog more if it wasn’t for the fact that wifi at home has seriously been an issue, slowing down the process of writing articles down a lot. Plus, since I want to write on media like anime and cartoons, if I can’t even load the page I doubt I’ll ever be able to progress in the ways that I want to, which sucks. But such is life and I’m coping.

Coping could be the alternate title, actually. My dad just discovered I’m an atheist, though I’m certain that it wasn’t too hard to guess over the past month. The conversation started off with asking about why I don’t see design in the world. I said I didn’t even know how you can see design, given that most of what we call design is “designed” because we know who designed it. I’m planning to write out my take on design later, but that’s a conversation I really enjoy thinking about, whatever the conclusion.

The other point was, of course, morality. I can say I did a bad job on making my point on it when we talked, and the whole “authority” thing irked me. It’d take a lot more than I think I’d be able to articulate in person in order to settle why I disagree with the premise of authority so much. But I never did get to point out the biggest point: Morality in itself can’t lead people to believe that a god exists. The statement “You can’t have morality without god” fails before it’s uttered if it’s being used when we’re still talking about god and his existence. It’s like saying “You can’t have crop circles without aliens” Both statements are contingent on the existence of god or aliens and this point must be proven first to make the statement “You can’t have X without Y”

Essentially, we live in a world where people have morals. IF god exists, then he was the cause of it. (well, specifically, if the christian god exists or any god purported to be the cause of morals exist) If he doesn’t, then we necessarily got our morals elsewhere. My dad also briefly mentioned that faith precedes belief. While it’s finally nice to stop wondering about how my parents would apply faith, this point isn’t to hard to address the problems to. Of course, this depends on his definition of faith. He can’t say faith means belief, unfortunately that much is clear. If he means trust, I have a post about why trust cannot precede belief coming up that would clear things up. Though the point is kind of obvious; how often do we ever trust something without first having evidence or at least believing that something is real? Well, at least, how can we do so and not understand how susceptible to delusion and confirmation bias we would be. Just because I trust something doesn’t mean it’s true no matter the conviction.

The larger point is that religion is the only place where faith then applies. I mean really, no one has faith that their car will run if they haven’t seen it run before. Or at least trust the people building it, which would also be based on even more evidence through the experiences of previous cars made by the same company. It’s totally justified to assume/have faith that the car will run. And even if you don’t have faith, the car’s running is neither guaranteed or at all affected by my having faith. Instead of worrying about conviction, try it out. Drive it around. Use the “test drive” option before you buy. Anything but put yourself in a position where you must have faith without evidence when you don’t need to.

Another concern is that my dad has an issue with me cursing, and I could write an essay about my views on cursing. Though the point he made still stood; I really ought to work on leaving the cussing out of the really thoughtful posts, as it may not be the place. Especially if my audience is people who do not like to read cursing.

So yeah, I have a lot to write on and hopefully I can use the weekend to knock some of these issues of the table. Hopefully I can express where I stand with all these things well enough so I don’t end up circumlocuting and dancing around points, because man I think I sounded more unsure about morality than I honestly am.

The Christian ‘Victory’

(Video link above)

 

In many ways, I feel for the speaker in this youtube video. Here he stood, in a position where he’s being directly told not to mention god or his beliefs in his high school graduation speech. As a staunch believer, he defies these oppressive credences and proclaims his faith in triumph.

It’s a situation I don’t doubt has happened before. Was the administration right to deny this person the right to talk about religion in his speech? In some ways, yes. We don’t know where he goes to school, but I assume this was a public school. Addressing things as if that were the case, there doesn’t really need to be mention of religious views in the senior speech. He’s in a setting where you can’t just say that the majority believes what you believe, and in respect staying silent about things so close to the hearts of many is wise.

Of course, it was a little silly to try and censor any speech that even mentions the word god, though no one can say how stringent the rules were in reality. For all we know it might’ve been that the student in question was planning on saying as much about god or more in his speech than what he did say in actuality.

As a former believer, I understand how much of an opportunity to be the ideal christian seemed to be presented when it came down to the wire and he had to decide whether or not he was going to defy the administrations wishes. But how he ended up handling it was the very thing that even a very lenient speech editor couldn’t let slip by, as lightly religious as it still was. The speech starts off essentially talking about how there will be times when people will be told to do things against their own conscience and beliefs, and that his speech was a perfect example as he had three drafts rejected for the mention of god in them. But, as he points out, we should be acting in ways that we believe is morally good and not for others. Ending with a verse, he blessed the audience in the name of the god of the christian bible.

I wouldn’t have had much of a problem with the speech, though in the end it is still too religious in a moment where you just can’t assume the religion of your audience. The problem I do have is how it’s already becoming the staple example of fighting against religious oppression when the “oppression” was a general policy probably meant to respect the beliefs of everyone. Even in my old high school, where the percentage of christians in the school almost definitely match the amount of muslim and sheik beliefs, no mention of religion is ever made simply because outside of the passing reference, is it really a necessary part of the speech? Also, is the christian religion being oppressed? It’s like the time when an atheist fought to eliminate mandated prayer became the day “prayer was taken out of our schools” as if nobody was allowed to pray anymore. I definitely sympathize with the level of backlash christians have gotten for the rise in gay politics, if only because I can see how sincere most of the responses can be, as sincere a simply bigoted response can be at times. But this is nothing short of an illusion of oppression in many instances. Outside of peer pressure, at least. And even as a atheist I can say that while sex isn’t wrong, pressuring to have it is terrible. But again, outside of this, christian theology is probaly one of the most priveleged parts of the nation in a broad stroke.

At the end of the day, this wasn’t the huge levels of preaching I expected it to be, though it is honestly enough for any editor to say that it should be changed. One of the recurring points I lean on is the idea that this would be a different scenario if the speaker was a muslim or anything else. School graduation speeches are a place to tell parents and students about moving on and growing up, about setting goals and achieving them. Sure, a passing mention on religious beliefs are fine, but it’s hardly a victory against oppression to feel the need to break policy made not to oppress but to allow for respect.

-A nonbelieving bard with the completely “insane” ability to sit through speeches containing some religious perspective

Sunday Sermon Talks: Firsts for everything?

Minister Giving Sermon to congregation in Church back view

I don’t really have a clue how much longer will I have the. . . ‘privilege’ of going to church with my parents. While I can’t complain too much, the moment I move out I’m going to enjoy sleeping in on Sundays. I’ve basically operated with the notion of a sort of 6 day week my whole life, with Sunday being a special time of the week reserved for church and family stuff.

So while I still go, I thought it’d be interesting to sort of use this as a writing opportunity to sort of shed my perspective on the sermons. I go to a Christian Alliance Church near home, and the sermons there have always been interesting to hear for the most part. My pastor speaks with a sort of gentle authority that I’m sure is entrancing to listen to for most like myself. He can tell a joke or two but for the most part, it’s short but deep. I used to be eager to take in every word and apply it to my life before I became an atheist, but now every sermon comes as a sort of personal challenge to seek the veracity in his words and challenge my own nonbelief. It’s not that challenging, though. For the most part his sermons are presented specifically to believer, so there’s not much for the nonbeliever like me to really nibble on. The last time I had something worth really thinking about was over a month or two ago. In that particular sermon, he started talking about faith. For those he said who challenge the need for faith, he said matter of factly “We have faith in things all the time, what do you mean you don’t need faith? I have faith the sun rises every day, faith that my phone operates well enough to do the job -god knows I’ve know clue how this contraption works- we all need faith!”

So let’s talk about faith for a moment.

This is of course  paraphrasing, though the phone and sun examples are accurate. I couldn’t possibly remember it word for word, but I digress. It made me think of my own objections to faith and why I felt that faith the way it’s described in the bible wasn’t necessary. For one, it sounded to me that the “faith” that the pastor talked about that day seemed a lot like trust, NOT the biblical version. The sun rose yesterday and the day before, spanning throughout your whole life. It’s not that hard to expect that, from experience, it would do so again. Same with the car and the phone. If the phone didn’t work yesterday, I wouldn’t be so trusting of that phone in my pocket. The faith that the pastor talked about was entirely based on prior evidence to warrant the faith. (Or trust, take your pick) The christian faith, though, has nothing to do with evidence. While people probably have their own sorts of evidences supporting their christian faith, it’s not at all necessary for belief.

 Faith, as biblically defined, means this: 1  Now faith is the 1aassurance of things 2bhoped for, the3conviction of cthings not seen.” Hebrews 11:1

William Lane Craig adheres to the Webster definition: “an unquestioning belief that does not require proof or evidence.”

I can’t accept that notion as anything more than belief without justification. If this is what faith means, what use does it have? Even Craig goes so far as to say in his website that even though this is what faith means, Christians still have evidence. And I’ve heard most, if not all, of the arguments, from refined to emotional. Let alone the fact that it’s never been sufficient, this is in direct conflict with the biblical calling for Christians to have faith. I think it impossible to sincerely believe in something without evidence.  Let’s be honest, we’re insecure beings. We just don’t take what’s handed to us. I’m willing to bet that everyone who comes to the Christian faith already had prior belief in a god. As evidence motivated creatures, I find it hard to think that anyone actually had a complete lack of evidence before just going forward and believing in god. Sure, their evidences may be false arguments or years of being raised in a religious family. But no matter the quality of evidence, it’s evidence nonetheless.Though, the faith Christians talk about has a catch. If at any point the evidence fails, it doesn’t matter because there was never a need for it! The sting of this is that when the evidence falters in a believer, their belief will still be warranted unlike before they believed, and now they will continue to blindly believe sans justification. Is this any way to operate in real life? Do I just keep believing in things in face or in absence of evidence, or embrace the fact that I have no justification for my beliefs?

Unjustified beliefs are dangerous in many ways, and holding them as highly as the religious does runs risk of many things, like self delusion. There’s no questioning that we are our worst enemies when it comes to finding the truth. Confirmation bias, compartmentalization, and emotions fog our perception of reality all the time. People claim to see ghosts, spirits and a list of nonsense as a result. Why would religion risk going into this category if they cared about being a truth based belief system? I have a theory about why but that’s a post for another day. Until then, let’s conclude with this:

I have absolutely no problem with faith as long as there is evidence for it. Hell, we can hope for things without evidence in the same vein with no problem. But the moment we try and find truth by disregarding evidence, we might as well have handed our eyes over to that which we blindly believe in.

We aren’ t about using them anymore, that’s for sure.

So this is my intro to a weekly sort of ramble I’ll be writing about my thoughts on sermons I have to listen to.  I might make a small post about today’s sermon but it’s really nothing huge. They’re talking about the book of Joshua.

-A slightly bored self proclaimed Bard in the back of the room listening to the sermon

 

 

On Casual Sex

“At work watching Valerie Hubert give a presentation on the physical and emotional dangers of our sexual culture while thinking about personal stories I have heard. What a multi-task.

Inside of [omitted]’s Head:

Casual sex..including any sex outside of a commitment, does not give freedom. Instead it enslaves one to insecurities, guilt, false expectancy and a broken heart

My conclusion:

The danger of lust is the imaginary world it creates.

The consequence of lust is that world crashing in.

 

I don’t usually feel like responding to posts like this but I have a lot to say about how false the idea of casual sex being inherently bad is. In today’s culture, I agree that casual sex carries with it a lot of shame. It’s certainly not inherent, as many people who care little for what society thinks can have casual sex without feelings of heartache and loss. Hell, I’ve never felt guilt or shame when I have casual sex.

 

How does casual sex give way to insecurities? Guilt? A broken heart? In a culture that shames sex in general, it’s easy to see how the first two are cultivated within some people. Especially with the fact that the idea brings forth images of half drunk, half high on godknowswhat and barely conscious romps through the night, it’s no wonder that people are ashamed of casual sex. How is this a way to live, let alone enjoy the sex? Casual sex has become so taboo that it gets paired up with the second most taboo activity adolescents and young adults enjoy: partying. Given all the underage drinking that goes on in most parties, this taboo at least isn’t all too surprising. How in the world has something so simple and enjoyable gotten pair up with the loud ruckus that parties engender?

 

The answer isn’t all that surprising. Religion has had a firm grip around the balls of sex almost since inception. Anything outside the very strict parameters of sex from a religious context has been toted as shameful for so long that even if the practice isn’t inherently bad, shame, guilt, and insecurity is inevitable. There are many verses that I could point to that elaborate on this fact, but pastors hold a true monopoly on sex shaming. Most people don’t read the bible enough to understand the need for sex shaming anyway. Sex outside of marriage isn’t the problem. The lack of proper sex ed in schools and the shame game toted with it has made casual sex so unfortunate for many participants. People who have sex while holding this kind of shame are more likely to get STD’s and get pregnant because of ignorance and shame towards contraception, thus perpetuating the shame cycle. It’s an almost ingenious system if it weren’t for that fact that I doubt that this was the intended result.

Also, a quick point about the whole broken heart business: if you have sex and you and your partner consensually agree to a purely sexual relationship, no one is going to feel heartbroken. Period.

 

The ending quote made by my dear family member could be reworded for similar effect:

 

My conclusion:

The danger of sex shaming is the imaginary world it creates.

The consequence of sex shaming is that world crashing in.

 

-A self proclaimed Bard